Polish-born artist Piotr Janowski has become well-known for turning buildings and even entire locomotives into shimmery art installations by covering them in thin layers of tin foil. Now, the artist is back with Zabkowska 9, Take off — a building in the heart of Warsaw that has been sitting empty and in decay for years. By wrapping the large townhouse in tin foil, the artist hopes to call attention to Warsaw’s lack of affordable housing, despite the city’s high number of empty buildings.
Janowski’s latest canvas this time around is a derelict 1870 tenement building, which has survived two world wars, located in Warsaw’s Praga-Północ district. Over the years, the area has become known for its crime and drug scene, but is being rediscovered as of late. Comparing it to Brooklyn before gentrification, Janowski said he is seeking to bring attention to the building and its potential to help the city with its lack of affordable housing.
The artist explained that he hopes this particular work will help the city prepare a future urban design that will benefit those in need while retaining the architectural history of the neighborhoods. “I believe that my aluminum installation will, for a moment, turn into a symbolic silver bridge, which will combine the dreams of the pre-war past and then the dramatic years of the city’s inhabitants during the occupation with the contemporary positive changes that are taking place so definitely in this fascinating Warsaw district,” Janowski said. “I think that this is an ideal and unique time to adapt one of the abandoned buildings for this project and symbolically make its destroyed beauty reborn.”
Working with a local homeless man, Wiesław Gołąb, who lives in the building, the artist began the art installation by covering the facade in more than 600 square meters of tin foil. Using a lift, he often spent days on end painstakingly covering the building’s wooden, wood, metal and stone facade. With help from Wiesław, his wife and about 15 young volunteers, he was able to finish the incredible art piece in about 10 days.
Images via Piotr Janowski